Another ambulance at the bottom of the cliff | The Jackal

28 May 2013

Another ambulance at the bottom of the cliff

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The Government's new national suicide prevention plan, announced today, contains a raft of new initiatives, including support for small communities which lose major industries and more support for families of suicide victims.

It aims to reduce the national average of 500 suicides each year, including about 100 youth suicides.

What a load of rubbish! The average number of suicides for five years to 2012 was 543. In 2008, 510 people committed suicide, which increased to 547 in 2012. The suicide rate hasn't been 500 for a very long time and certainly not since John Key became Prime Minster.

People should question such generalized figures when the actual amount of suicides per year is much much higher. The fact that information relating to the current suicide rate hasn't been released indicates that it has reached epidemic proportions. It's likely the suicide rate has exceeded the peak of 577 in 1998 and that recent figures haven't been released because it makes the government look bad.

Mr Key said the number of young people who took their own lives was "far too high - I mean, any number above zero is too high".

He said the issue predominantly affected boys as well as Maori and Pasifika youths.

"So it's critically important that we pour more resources in that area," he said.

"There's been some very tragic examples of copycat suicides. There's been quite big groupings in certain areas, and there are a lot of different complicating factors in this area.

It's not all that hard to understand... If people's lives are difficult, they sometimes choose to commit suicide. When more people's lives are difficult, there are more suicides committed. This is why the suicide rate is a good indication of how well a government is performing, or not performing as the case may be.

When you create high unemployment, cut funding for education, increase the cost of living, increase inequality, make services harder to attain and ensure there’s an underclass that has little hope to achieve a brighter future no matter how hard they work, there's consequences.

"So all I can say is that we care passionately about wanting to make sure that we protect youngsters. We know they're vulnerable."

If Key actually cared about young people, he wouldn't have reduced their ability to earn a proper living wage. Income for 16 to 20 year olds had already decreased before the government reintroduced youth rates, which essentially means young people will earn less and therefore not be able to purchase the basic necessities they require.

National's ageist agenda has ensured that New Zealand will continue to have the worst youth suicide rate in the world.

Hardship is the main contributor to suicide. That's why there are more suicides in rural areas than in urban communities and more suicides within financially struggling families. Under Keys incompetence, inequality has increased the fastest of all OECD countries leading to an increased amount of suicides.

So while the government is ignoring the adverse social and economic conditions they've created, they're grandstanding about an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff that will do little to fix the problem. The government also appears to be trying to keep secret the extent of the problem, which is entirely unacceptable.

The amount of suicide in New Zealand always increases under a National led government and unfortunately nothing has changed in that regard under John Keys failed administration.